Jacksonville will receive control of historic buildings

Jackson County will transfer ownership of four historic properties to the city of Jacksonville.

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners approved the transfer Wednesday of the Jacksonville Museum of Southern Oregon History — also known as the Jacksonville Courthouse — at 206 N. Fifth St., and additional storage buildings; the Beekman Bank building, 100 W. California St.; the Catholic Rectory, 210 N. Fourth St.; and the Beekman House, 452 E. California St.

All the buildings were constructed in the late 1800s. The Jacksonville Heritage Society has been managing the buildings for the Southern Oregon Historical Society.

Jackson County officials have said the county lacks the resources to continue maintenance and care of the properties and that the transfer is in the public's best interest.

"The city of Jacksonville desires to obtain these properties to help ensure that these historically significant properties are properly cared for and maintained and that the public interest may be furthered," County Administrator Danny Jordan said in a letter to the commissioners.

A deed conveying each of the properties to Jacksonville will be issued within 30 days.

"It's a really good deal," Commissioner Don Skundrick said at the public meeting.

The buildings had previously been managed by the Southern Oregon Historical Society through a lease agreement with Jackson County. SOHS experienced financial woes following state legislation that combined all county-related levies into a single tax rate and allowed counties to allocate those funds at their discretion. The county had tapped into $1 million of historic preservation funds following the measure's passage, and by 2007 the county was no longer providing funding to SOHS. The two sides settled after a legal battle over the funds, and the funding stream was eliminated.

"This is a win-win situation for everybody," Commissioner C.W. Smith said of the transfer. "I'm pretty excited to see (the courthouse) building be brought back into utilization."

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at rpfeil@mailtribune.com

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